HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Gone To Pot!
Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jun 2003
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Toronto Star
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The federal government wants to decriminalize the use of marijuana because 
the current law is unenforceable, but wants to get tough on growers and 
dealers. We asked your opinion and here's what you had to say:

You've got a Prime Minister still living in the 60's. Why shouldn't the 
rest of you? -Rob Clark, Sarasota, Fl., June 2

I'm glad that Parliament finally had the guts to pass this long overdue 
bill. I don't understand the reason behind imprisoning people for 
victimless crimes. Sure, smoking pot isn't exactly healthy for you, but 
neither is tobacco, fatty foods, gasoline - not even the radiation from 
your computer monitor. -Natasha St. Amand, Toronto, May 2

People are smoking marijuana everywhere you go. Laws are supposed to evolve 
with external conditions in society. -Ryan Boon, Toronto, June 2

I agree with many who believe that the government should regulate and treat 
marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. I just really hope that certain 
American drug czars don't persuade Bush and the Gang to screw things up in 
Canada, whether it be border crossing crackdowns, trade or anything else. 
- -Tarren Katz, Toronto, June 2

Do your research people! Get out there and learn what you are talking about 
before you try to argue that this is bad. Stop being hypocritical! Put down 
your beer that is giving you liver disease! Put down your potato chips that 
are raising your cholesterol! Get your butt off your couch before you start 
complaining about all the "harm" that is going to come. -Amber Pennington, 
Toronto, June 2

Seventeen years ago when I came here, pot was prevalent. Thanks to 
America's war on drugs, their marijuana eradication program, and employee 
drug testing, pot is now scarce and the price is inflated (one ounce of pot 
is more expensive than an ounce of gold). We now have the worst 
methamphetamine (ice) abuse in the U.S. Along with that we also have the 
highest crime in the U.S. If this is the price society has to pay to 
control marijuana then it's definitely way too high a price! -Laurie 
Kenney, Kauai, Hawaii, June 2

If decriminalization goes through, and I hope it does, it will NOT cause 
more people to smoke pot. Look at the situation in Amsterdam. As many 
people smoke there as in Canada (in fact, I have read studies which claim 
LESS smokers there). We need to look at how decriminalization has affected 
their society, and realize that it is in fact, a very smart idea. One 
reader against decriminalization mentioned that "producers will have a 
market to supply to." Newsflash: That market is alive and thriving, 
millions of people from doctors to artists enjoy smoking cannabis products. 
This market isn't going to change just because it's now a ticket instead of 
jail time. In the minds of smokers, it's already not a crime to light up a 
joint. -Max Breslow, Toronto, May 29

This is nothing more than a cash grab. The police will now issue tickets in 
a case where the presently do little, if anything, about. Marijuana is not 
the demon weed it is made out to be. I have been smoking for 18 of my 32 
years. About the only thing that has been adversely altered is ambition. 
Marijuana is not a gateway drug--a person's environment and the people they 
associate with are a determining factor moreso than anything else. -Bill 
French, Kitchener, May 29

The bill that was introduced by Martin Cauchon brings us further down the 
road of prohibition. Canada should establish a system for the legal control 
and regulation of the production, sale and consumption of substances which 
are currently illegal. -JR Villemaire, Ottawa, May 29

In my view, the Feds have created an opportunity for dealers and growers to 
expand their market. Without the threat of a criminal record, I believe 
more people will be willing to get in on the buzz. The penalties for simple 
possession should be increased to deter the purchase. -Dennis Owen, 
Richmond Hill, May 29

I do not agree with legal paternalism. I do agree with individual autonomy 
and responsibility. Criminal record or not, the Canadian Government should 
not be inventing consequences for engaging in a victimless activity. If the 
inherent risks and consequences are agreeable to the user, then he or she 
should be able to make that choice. Similarly, if a grower or merchant 
sells only to adults seeking out this product, (and no harm befalls 
innocent or unwilling parties) then any government intervention intended to 
stop the transaction is a gross invasion of liberty; and a denial of our 
predominantly capitalist/free-market economic policy. -Mike Cockram, 
Kingston, May 29

Cigarettes, booze, fatty foods, and gasoline: legalized, regulated poisons, 
each proven to be harmful to human health, but nonetheless available and 
profitable. Most Canadians readily indulge in such poisons, even work hard 
to get them. Yet most of us choose to ignore the inherent hypocrisy of 
keeping a silly weed illegal because we're afraid an airplane pilot might 
fly stoned? Where's the logic people? -Lee Rogers, Toronto, May 29

Why is it that the only people who seem to oppose the decriminalization of 
marijuana are those who seem utterly ignorant of its effects. Alcohol is 
legal. Teens are still not allowed to purchase it; in fact it remains 
easier to purchase pot than booze. The effects are relatively similar. No 
one is supposed to drink while intoxicated, whether it be pot, alcohol, or 
any other number of stimulants. The new law isn't saying to people "it is 
ok to get really high and then drive a car," just as the LCBO doesn't 
encourage their customers to drink and drive. The fact of the matter 
remains that many people enjoy relaxing after work with a glass of wine, 
and others enjoy smoking a joint. If the glass of wine doesn't result in 
jail time, then neither should the joint. -Jenny Millar, Toronto, May 29

The majority of the population that condemns the use of cannabis are 
ignorant to the facts. Alcohol is by far more dangerous, yet it is legal. 
When was the last time you heard of a violent incident or a fatal car crash 
directly due to marijuana use? Marijuana is also less addictive than 
nicotine, alcohol and many other prescription medications. It's about time 
that we realize that prosecuting cannabis users is a waste of time and 
resources. -Aaron Lo, Vancouver, May 28

I think decriminalizing pot will fly in the face of the U.S.'s no tolerance 
policy and that makes me happy. I hope that somehow this wakes people up to 
the fact that the war on drugs is actually a war on people. And if the 
American Government has a problem with a sovereign neighbour forming its 
own policies, if they decide to punish us by making us wait longer at the 
borders, so be it! -John Giaccotto, Richmond Hill, May 28

It may not be legalization, but it's a step in the right direction. Kudos 
to my fellow Canadians who realize a criminal charge for possession is as 
ludicrous as America's WAR ON DRUGS. -Sunny Sambhara, Atlanta, May 28

My biggest fear and concern is that we all know how alcohol is legal and 
how many impaired drivers are behind the wheel. Are we now going to have to 
contend with drivers who are "high?" Human nature being what it is people 
will definitely abuse the "privilege" -Al Pascal, Muskoka, May 28

When the State of New York decriminalized possession and private use of 25 
grams or less of marijuana in 1976, here's what happened: Nothing bad. . . 
. Marijuana availability remained unchanged, in fact some of the 
bad-rebel-criminal aura wore off something that got you the equivalent of a 
traffic ticket. . . . Instead of listening to the fools in Washington, 
check out the New York experience. It has been good for almost everyone, 
giving the legal system time to focus on real crime. - Al Traveller, 
Lindenhurst, N.Y., May 28

This is a bad law, period. Marijuana is a hallucinatory drug. Would you 
want your airline pilot on it? Your doctor? Guess what? We're going to have 
many more cases of "driving while stoned" because there is no consequence. 
A criminal record is a deterrent. A few-hundred-dollars fine is a joke. - 
Adam Schweitzer, Markham., May 28

This debate misses a very strong point: right now, in Ontario, there is no 
effective law for simple possession of marijuana. That means that I can 
walk down Yonge St. smoking a joint (as many now do) and if I'm arrested, I 
can almost guarantee that the case will be thrown out. Keep in mind that 
the existing legislation has been ruled invalid, and cases are being thrown 
out while we wait for the new legislation. . . . In effect, pot is already 
"legal" as the real punishment is a moderate amount of harassment by a 
police officer (which is unlikely if you are polite or discreet). If you 
actually do get arrested, you would spend a day in court. No fine, no jail 
time - just a minor inconvenience. - Will Langstroth, Toronto., May 28

Personally, I think it's a big mistake. I think it definitely sends a 
message that weed is "OK" and that the producers will have a market to 
supply to (and a young one at that as the fine is greatly reduced for 
minors). The "no tolerance" for peddling around schools is a fantasy if 
that's supposed to deter teens from getting high. - Alex Hobcraft, 
Toronto., May 28

I see this whole thing heading towards a complete mess. While the Liberals 
are fighting amongst themselves in Parliament, the Supreme Court is 
scheduled to rule on whether marijuana laws are constitutional. If they 
strike down Canada's pot laws before new ones are in place, we will end up 
with complete legalization, and no regulation. Then, the Liberal bill will 
become a step backwards, rather than forwards, and likely die on the floor 
of the legislature. Now if Chretien scraps the decriminalization bill and 
introduces a new one for legal, taxed marijuana (similar to alcohol or 
tobacco), Canadians will by and large be happier, and richer. - Sam Rahimi, 
Toronto., May 28

It's one huge mistake - a lifetime of teaching your kids not to get into 
drugs only to have the parental efforts go down the drain because of an 
irresponsible government. I can only imagine the prime minister and his 
motley crew were all on drugs when they decided to allow this to pass into 
law. - Michael Chezy, Orangeville., May 28

It's nice to see that after all the research that has been done with 
cannabis that the government refuses to accept that cannabis isn't harmful, 
that cannabis isn't a gateway drug. The government is lying to the people. 
. . . Decriminalization is a farce and nothing more than a cash cow for the 
government. - Robert Payne, Kitchener., May 28

The only thing wrong about the new plan for marijuana is that it should 
have been implemented decades ago. Marijuana is not nearly as harmful as 
alcohol or cigarettes, and is not a "gateway" drug as some of the 
opposition would like people to believe. Anyone opposition that would just 
sit down and read the cold hard scientific facts about marijuana would 
realize this. For a student to be given a criminal record that stops him or 
her getting into school or a decent job is the most ridiculous thing in the 
world. - Nick Bajorek, Oakville., May 28

The only real answer [is ] the government must become Canada's number one 
weed dealer. Grow houses dwindle to none. Profits go from criminals to the 
people. Possession and distribution cases vanish from our court system. The 
black market for marijuana drops to none. - Carl German, Oakville, May 28

About time. Next step? Legalization. - Marcus Stevenson, Toronto , May 28

Decriminalization is not the answer. Legalize it. Tax it. Control the 
quality. - Harvey Ostroff, Vancouver, May 28

All this money spent on drinking and driving. Now pot is OK. How many drunk 
drivers are really stoned drivers? I guess sniffing glue and gas will be OK 
too because the current law is unenforceable. Totally unacceptable. - John 
Grassl, Toronto, May 28

Pot laws are 'unenforceable' so we are making it easier to break the law? 
Sorry, but you can't grow it or sell it but you can carry it? I'm missing 
the logic of this. - J Scott, Toronto, May 28

It's about time our police force spends its valuable time on more important 
things than busting people for small quantities of pot. - Brooke Grant, 
Toronto, May 28

While pot may do some damage, it isn't going to ruin people's lives, it 
won't cause our society to crumble, and it won't be the end of the world. 
If we want to look at real health risks, let's look at all cars in the GTA 
polluting the air we breathe. - Andrew Taylor, Mississauga, May 28

The law is a good start. All fines levied should be earmarked toward the 
war on drugs and drug awareness for kids. It was wrong for someone, 
especially a young person, to carry around a criminal record for such a 
minor offence. - Fred Ziffle, Toronto, May 28

It is about time. Like anything else, moderation is key. Pot is no worse 
for you than drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or eating too much 
McDonald's. I admire your courage to take a stand and hope that other 
countries will follow. - Megan Macklin, Boston
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